Mother of child shot in van upset with conditions she was living in

CREATED Jul 30, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - Chavonne Smith is the mother of one of the children shot in a van last week near 36th and Hadley.  Smith spent the following hours at her child's bedside.

The eleven year old and a ten-year-old boy were shot on their way home from Taco Bell. What police revealed after the shooting has Smith upset, saying the system failed her and her daughter.

'It's just bad. It took for my daughter to almost die before they removed her," said Smith.
Smith feels frustrated that her daughter had to live in these deplorable conditions, especially since she's been trying to regain custody from D.C.F. Police found roaches and dog feces scattered around the home of her father's girlfriend Octavia Burton, who is now charged with neglect.
"She told me that she would have to go outside and breathe because it was so bad," said Smith.
And that wasn't all this mother learned on her regular visits.
"What was your daughter telling you over the last year that you were going back to DCF and reporting to them? She came and told me that Octavia was abusing her, punching her in the chest and I had let the bureau worker know," said Smith.
Despite all that, the custody situation remained the same.
"That was beyond poverty, that was neglect, filthiness and too much and I just want to know is there any help for mothers like me?" questioned Smith.
Smith readily admits she struggles with mental health issues, but she's doing better, taking medication for schizophrenia and depression and attending parenting classes.
"And I would tell her that I'm working very hard to get you home. I haven't missed a visit. I hurt everyday 'cause she's only 11 years old, shouldn't no child have to experience anything like that," said Smith.
Smith's daughter has been released from the hospital. The bullet went through her shoulder area and it's still difficult for her to move it.  For now, she's been placed with a foster family and Smith says she has spoken with them and appreciates all that they're doing for her little girl, but she's still desperately trying to bring her home.